COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A wrong-way interstate driver slammed into a car full of sorority sisters on spring break about one minute after an Ohio trooper received a report about the errant driver, according to dashboard camera video released Wednesday by the State Highway Patrol.
The footage shows the wrong-way driver seconds before the crash that killed the driver and three of the Bowling Green University students on Interstate 75 south of Toledo. The early morning crash on Friday also left two other students in critical condition.
The five Alpha Xi Delta members were in the car as they caravanned with 11 other sisters in separate cars to the Detroit airport for a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Just minutes after the crash, the video records the voice of an unidentified Alpha Xi Delta member, saying: “Sir, what can we do to help? They were with us. Those are our sisters. We were all on spring break.”
“I want you to go, just go stay by the car,” the trooper says. “Stay with the car, please. Go stay up there with the car.”
The video shows the trooper shifting lanes to avoid the car one minute after pulling into northbound traffic to find it.
The crash happens about 10 seconds later, just after the trooper turns around. He makes it to the scene 25 seconds later.
He’s heard saying, “Bowling Green, give me a squad.”
As he begins to investigate, trucks are slowly stopping and pulling around.
Lt. Anne Ralston of the Patrol said the trooper was limited by the short amount of time between the call and the crash.
“It didn’t really afford us the opportunity to use any other tactics,” she said. “It really limited what he was able to do.”
She said a goal in such instance is to first locate the threat then try to mitigate it. A number of factors are considered including time of day, amount of traffic, the road conditions, if any other officers are able to help, how easily officers will be able to get the driver to stop and the driver’s condition – such as any medical issue or impairment.
“These types of calls of one-way drivers, especially on the interstate, are very dangerous, obviously, and very unpredictable and there’s really no set rules on how to handle that, just because every incident is so different,” she said.
Killed in the crash were Sarah Hammond, 21, a junior from Yellow Springs, Rebekah Blakkolb, 20, a junior from Aurora and sophomore Christina Goyett, 19, from Bay City, Mich. The wrong-way driver, Winifred Lein, 69, of Perrysburg, was traveling alone and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Associated Press Writer JoAnne Viviano contributed to this report.